Warden is a power pop trio from Montgomery County, Maryland, a place located right between Washington DC and Baltimore where they've been playing since they were 17. While they may have begun as a pop-punk band, their debut is anything but. Sort of. They're obviously still very influenced by their roots but they've managed to channel that influence through the lens of several years of playing music.
Though they are only a three-piece, you never feel like there's something missing in the sound, even when guitarist Cory Cotter stops playing chords and starts playing a solo. This is due in large part to Brian Harris' abilities as a bassist. He anchors the songs and makes good use of distortion when necessary to fill out what would otherwise be a thin sounding song. Drummer Ryan Siever keeps everything together without making the music feel stiff.
The self-titled EP Warden begins with the driving "Fine,” a song that features a chorus that could have been pulled straight from the 90's. Not quite a nod to their early days playing pop-punk, but definitely a derivative of their influences. But no sooner than the song is over do we suddenly find ourselves listening to a southern rock/blues rock jam that shows off Warden's versatility as a band. As soon as "Blue" ends, the band gets right back to their driving power-pop sound with "Shipwrecked,” a song that refuses to slow down.
In a definite nod to their early days playing pop-punk comes "Winner,” with its blend of the band's two sides. It features the best guitar solo on the album, not just because it only lasts for a couple of measures but also because it's actually perfectly written for the song. The strongest song on the EP, "Feel,” is sadly also the weakest song lyrically. Every line seems to have been pulled out of a rhyming dictionary, trite and overly simplistic. The band closes out their debut with a song that is just as derivative of the 90's as the rest of the record.
And that's really the overall theme that I found on this EP. Warden isn't exactly breaking new ground with their debut, but they've done a good job of continuing the tradition they've come into.
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